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Thomas McGinnis

ccollinsmith's picture

Thomas McGinnis, supposed to have been born in 1710 in Co. Down (or in Dublin, depending on the researcher).


My grandmother was a McGinnis, and I have a clear line of descent from Edward McGinnis, who was born in southwest Virginia in 1750. I have never been able to trace the line back to Ireland, though I know that the McGinnis name historically comes from County Down.

Here's the catch: Some researchers claim that my Edward is the son of the Thomas McGinnis mentioned at the top of this post. They claim that this Thomas McGinnis was heir to the McGinnises of Iveagh, and was next in line to become an Earl. They claim that he moved to America instead and refused to return when his father (the supposed Earl) died.

This story makes no sense to me because the next in line is not likely to move to the colonies. Furthermore, the researchers claim his castle was somewhere around Dublin - even though the McGinnises are centered in Co. Down.

I think it's most likely romantic nonsense, but I thought I'd check here to see if there could be the remotest chance of truth to it.

QUESTIONS: Would the head of the Iveagh McGinnis family have been an Earl? (I know the family has a peerage, but would the title have been Earl?). Is there any chance that they would have had a castle outside of Dublin? And are there any stories about a McGinnis heir born ca. 1710 moving to the colonies?




Ahoghill Antrim
Ahoghill Antrim's picture
Super contributor
Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Thos McGinnis

According to Wikipedia there is considerable doubt about where Arthur Guinness was born.

“Arthur Guinness (1724 or 1725 – 23 January 1803) was an Irish brewer and the founder of the Guinness brewery business and family. He was also an entrepreneur, visionary and philanthropist.

At 27, in 1752, Guinness's godfather Arthur Price, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel, bequeathed him £100 in his will. Guinness invested the money and in 1755 had a brewery at Leixlip, just 17 km from Dublin. In 1759, Guinness went to the city and set up his own business. He took a 10,000 year lease on the 4-acre (16,000 m2) brewery at St. James's Gate from the descendants of Sir Mark Rainsford for an annual rent of £45.

Arthur Guinness was born into the Irish Protestant Guinness family, claimed to descend from the Gaelic Magennis clan of County Down.[1] Recent DNA evidence however suggests descent from the McCartans, another County Down clan, whose spiritual home lay in the townland of Guinness near Ballynahinch, County Down.[2]

Guinness's place and date of birth are the subject of speculation. His gravestone in Oughterard, County Kildare says he died on 23 January 1803, at age 78, indicating that he was born some time in 1724 or very early in 1725. This contradicts the date of 28 September 1725 chosen by the Guinness company in 1991, apparently to end speculation about his birthdate.[3] The place of birth was perhaps his mother's home at Read homestead at Ardclough County Kildare.[4]

In 2009 it was claimed he was born in nearby Celbridge[5] where his parents lived in 1725 and where his father later became land steward for the Archbishop of Cashel, Dr. Arthur Price, and may have brewed beer for the other workers on the estate. In his will, Dr. Price left £100 each to Arthur and his father in 1752.

In 1761 he married Olivia Whitmore in St. Mary's Church, Dublin, and they had 21 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood. From 1764 they lived at Beaumont House, which he had built on a 51-acre (21 ha) farm, which is now a part of Beaumont Convalescent Home, behind the main part of Beaumont Hospital, between Santry and Raheny in north County Dublin. Beaumont (meaning beautiful hill) was named by him and the later Beaumont parish copied his original name. In his latter years he lived at Mountjoy Square in Dublin, which was then in the process of being built in the style of elegant Georgian architecture. Three of his sons were also brewers, and his other descendants eventually included missionaries, politicians, and authors, including Os Guinness.

He was buried in his mother's family plot at Oughterard, County Kildare in January 1803.”


Arthur Guinness, the founder, doesn’t appear to have had any title at all. Later members of the family did have titles. One was a baronet for example. The first Earl was Edward Cecil Guinness (1847 – 1925), so 130 years after your Thomas was born. It doesn’t look like the story about your ancestor abandoning his claim to a title can be correct. No-one in the Guinness family seems to have had a title in the 1700s, Earl or otherwise. Arthur’s background seems to have been fairly humble.




ccollinsmith's picture
Joined: 6 Oct 2013
Hello Elwyn,Thank you for

Hello Elwyn,

Thank you for your reply. My question was actually more about the old Lords of Iveagh than the brewing family. The old McGinnis/McGuinness/Magennis Lords of Iveagh did historically gain a peerage in exchange for bowing the knee after the defeat of Hugh O'Neill and the Flight of the Earls. 

However, I think together we have answered my question. I just saw, in some other sources, that the old Lords of Iveagh lost their lands and their peerage in 1641. The Thomas McGinnis the cousins say came to America (and started our McGinnis line) was born more than half a century after that - and obviously before the ascendence of the new brewing family.

I personally never assumed that we were descended - anytime recently - from the old Lords of Iveagh. I thought it more likely that we were more humble (and very, very distant) distant relations. Maybe I can get my McGinnis second cousin to take a Y-DNA test and see if we do have any general relation to the  McGinnis sept of County Down. Judging from what you say about the brewers' DNA, I would guess that authentic Magennis/McGinnis DNA is pretty well documented.



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